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WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 19, 2017):  The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) is pleased to welcome digital media strategist, thought leader, author, lawyer, and entrepreneur Ananda Leeke as its new Director of Digital Policy and Engagement.

Leeke’s career has focused at the intersection of law, finance, project management, and digital communications, with a strong emphasis on social justice.  Most recently, Leeke served as the Digital Communications Director of Law Students in Court (LSIC).  Prior to joining LSIC, she established the Digital Sisterhood Network, a women’s media channel and online community, and she authored “Digital Sisterhood,” a social media and technology memoir. She is experienced in helping private and nonprofit organizations  to develop content and implement social media strategies that tell stories about their mission and work, build online communities, and engage the public around important causes.

The White House recognized Leeke as a thought leader and invited her to provide social media storytelling at conferences and events during the Obama Administration. She is a frequent speaker at conferences sponsored by AT&T, BlogHer, Latinos in Tech Innovation & Social Media (LATISM), Nonprofit Technology Network, and Spelman College. She regularly shares her social media expertise on The Daily Drum, a radio program that airs on WHUR 96.3 FM.  [click to continue…]

Redlined App Map - 925kissfmWASHINGTON, D.C. (January 13, 2016):  Today, the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) released a letter to NTIA Director and Assistant Secretary of Commerce Lawrence Strickling recommending that NTIA take the lead in creating an inter-agency taskforce on app redlining.  The taskforce would address the growing problem of racial discrimination facilitated by apps in commerce, housing, banking, employment, transportation, and public accommodations.

MMTC President and CEO Kim Keenan issued the following statement:

“App Redlining is the modern version of discrimination against people of color and their communities.  Unfortunately, the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1968 Fair Housing Act do not apply to app redlining.   While some companies are taking steps to prevent discrimination from being facilitated by their apps, other companies continue to profit from racial discrimination that is illegal everywhere except the internet.  The scope of this problem requires that it be addressed through an inter-agency task force led by NTIA with guidance from the White House.”

As the leading social justice organization in the media, telecom, and high tech fields, MMTC stands ready to assist NTIA and both the outgoing and incoming administrations in addressing this critical issue.  MMTC will highlight the issue of app redlining at our upcoming Broadband & Social Justice Summit and FinTech Empowerment Forum on February 7, 2017, in Washington, DC.   [click to continue…]

 

January 13, 2017
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) respectfully urges you to grant the petition filed with the Department of Justice in June 2016 requesting a posthumous pardon for Marcus Garvey.  In recognition of his lifelong and substantial contributions to society, his efforts to uplift peoples of African descent the world over, and his work to promote economic independence as a means of social progress, MMTC stands in strong support of a posthumous presidential pardon for Marcus Garvey.

Marcus Garvey lives in history as one of the first leaders of the American civil rights movement. In the early twentieth century, he was an advocate for the social, political, and economic independence of those of African descent across the world, and Garvey staked his name and his movement on the development of economic opportunity as a source of black empowerment.  To unite his followers toward a common goal of social progress, Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (“UNIA”), which at its height boasted nearly 6 million members in 40 countries.  In many ways, he was American’s first communications mogul.  In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “He was the first man on a mass scale and level to give millions of Negroes a sense of dignity and destiny.”  [click to continue…]

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 29, 2016):  Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorized the use of its common carrier application review procedures for its broadcast foreign ownership applications.

In 2013, after eight years of litigation led by MMTC, the Commission voted to relax its broadcast foreign ownership policies, but implementation has been difficult. Today’s vote greatly simplifies the foreign ownership application process and makes it affordable for small businesses to seek overseas sources of capital.

“This is welcome news for diverse owners in the United States and abroad, who – all things being equal – have more difficulty securing the capital needed to start or grow any business,” stated MMTC President and CEO Kim Keenan.  “The Commission’s decision today – and specifically the efforts of Commissioner O’Rielly – will provide minority broadcasters with far greater opportunities to finance their stations. Ultimately, this outcome will directly increase the diverse content needed and demanded to serve millions of people from coast to coast.”  [click to continue…]

Washington, DC (July 15, 2016):  The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) commends Comcast for partnering with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s ConnectHome Initiative  to  expand its Internet Essentials Program two million families living in public housing.

MMTC has previously recognized Comcast for the success of its Internet Essentials program, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband initiative for low-income families.  To date, the program has connected more than 600,000 low-income families, benefiting more than 2.4 million Americans.

“As we aim to close the digital divide, this is the kind of bold action that it will take to connect every American home without regard to socio-economic status,” stated MMTC President and CEO Kim Keenan.  “Our children and our future deserve nothing less.”  [click to continue…]

Washington, DC (July 13, 2016):  Today, the Federal Communications Commission released a statement clarifying a response FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler made during yesterday’s FCC oversight hearing.  When asked about a proposal by the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) in the Quadrennial Review order – which would extend the cable procurement requirements to broadcasters and other regulated communications industries – Chairman Wheeler suggested that “the Commission must be careful in determining whether that action would be reviewed under the strict-scrutiny standard, and if so whether it could satisfy that standard.”

MMTC President and CEO Kim Keenan has issued the following response:

“MMTC has reviewed the FCC staff’s clarification of the Chairman’s comments at yesterday’s FCC Oversight Hearing.  We urge the Chairman to affirm that the broad outreach of the MVPD Procurement Rule is not subject to ‘strict scrutiny.’  We stand in support of the July 12, 2016, letter from Congresswoman Clarke and Congressmen Rush and Butterfield requesting that the MVPD Procurement Rule, adopted and implemented under the 1992 Cable Act, be extended to all communications industries, with a referral to GAO for Title I information services.”  [click to continue…]

Protect My Free DataWashington, DC (June 24, 2016):  Today, the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) launched an online and nationwide campaign to preserve zero rating and free data practices for consumers, especially for those who are economically disadvantaged.  The campaign is designed to engage and inform the public on the zero rating debate, and to provide a conduit for those who are impacted most by free data plans to have their voices heard in the national discussion.

Zero rating, the practice by which mobile carriers offer data access to some websites and content at no charge to customer data plans, provides tremendous benefits to low-income consumers who can more effectively use their mobile data to access quality of life applications such as employment, healthcare, and educational content.  In its online call to action, MMTC is asking consumers across the country to contact the Federal Communications Commission, urging the agency to keep their mobile data free, particularly in light of the increasing demand for robust audio and video streaming services.

MMTC started this campaign in March when it released a White Paper that examined the zero-rated plans offered by the four major mobile carriers and the impacts and benefits for consumers.  In the White Paper, MMTC acknowledged that “zero-rating and other free data practices are poised to play key roles in helping to close the digital divide by addressing cost concerns and strengthening the value proposition offered to skeptical non-users, two key considerations for the millions of Americans who remain offline.”  [click to continue…]

DuJuan_McCoyWashington, DC (June 20, 2016):  DuJuan McCoy, a 27-year broadcast veteran, will add two broadcast affiliates to his Bayou City Broadcasting group – NBC and FOX affiliates KADN and KLAF in Lafayette, LA – after closing on a $40 million transaction with Nexstar Broadcasting.  McCoy already owns WEVV-CBS and WEEV-LD FOX in Evansville, and is now the only African American in the country to own, operate, and retain 100 percent responsibility for every element of operating four Big-Four network affiliates.

The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) co-brokered the deal for Nexstar and considers this a tremendous success story, both for McCoy and for MMTC’s advocacy and media brokerage, as the fight continues to increase the nation’s precipitously low media ownership diversity.

McCoy maintains independent minority control over all day-to-day operations and exemplifies a strong track record of success as a minority broadcast veteran.  Historically, due to systemic discrimination and unconscious bias, lenders are less likely to fund minorities and women – but Bayou City raised its own capital to fund its initial television station acquisition through a local San Angelo regional bank. McCoy continues to receive support from the financial community as Bayou City Broadcasting maintains control and independence in every aspect of its operation.  [click to continue…]

Washington, DC (June 14, 2016):  Today, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to uphold the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 2015 Open Internet Order reclassifying broadband as a utility.

The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) filed a brief in the Court’s proceeding and is reviewing today’s ruling. We hope that the decision will be interpreted to facilitate free data and other innovations that maintain affordable and accessible broadband service for all.  [click to continue…]

Washington, DC (May 25, 2016):  Today, the Third Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Prometheus Radio Project v. Federal Communications Commission castigated the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for its failure to act on the definition of “small disadvantaged business enterprises” (SDBs) that would be eligible to benefit from FCC diversity initiatives.  The Court directed the FCC to enter into a mediation aimed at creating a new definition of these “eligible entities” and gave a clear warning that if the Commission does not come up with a workable deadline for establishing a new definition of “eligible entities,” it will step in.

The FCC has promised studies on minority and female ownership for more than two decades, and the Court directed the Commission to finally take action, stating that if the FCC “needs more data” to find a definition that will improve minority ownership, “it must get it.”

The Court also extracted from the FCC a promise to address 24 MMTC minority ownership proposals.  The Court expects the FCC to circulate an order ruling on these proposals in June.  Some of MMTC’s proposals have been pending before the FCC for over a decade.

“Justice delayed is not justice denied. After 12 years of FCC delay, at last a definition that would advance minority broadcast ownership appears to be within reach,” stated MMTC President and CEO Kim Keenan.  “We are encouraged that the Third Circuit wants to give relief to multicultural owners in the clear future rather than some distant, unknown future.”

MMTC looks forward to working with the FCC to develop a timeline within the court-ordered 60-day timeframe to make sure that the long-awaited studies are completed.  [click to continue…]